Kim Marinaccio is the director of experience integration of lodging at Walt Disney World. She has held this position for about a year and has been with the company since 1990. While working for Disney, Marinaccio attended the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, graduating in 2007. Marinaccio discusses her time in the program, as well as her career.
What was the deciding factor in choosing to pursue your MBA at Crummer?
The decision to obtain my MBA was always a personal objective, but I knew it would also benefit my professional growth and pave the way for future career opportunities. I researched multiple graduate programs before pursuing my MBA. I ultimately chose Rollins because I felt they provided the most diversified program, both in terms of the participants and the curriculum.
How were you able to manage getting your work, graduate school and life all together?
I was fortunate to be able to participate in two graduate programs at Crummer. I participated in, and graduated from the Executive MBA but during the program, I became pregnant with my second child. Since I was out on maternity leave for three months and missed two courses, I was able to attend the Professional MBA program to make up the courses. Not only was the Rollins Crummer team supportive of my personal situation and balance, they offered me an opportunity to witness two programs. The Professional program was made up of professionals new to the workforce and therefore the teaching methods included more academic theory and entry-level case studies. The Executive Program focused on real world work experiences and highly complex case studies that consisted of a deeper understanding of ethical and political issues. The level of discussion on the part of the professional participants really stood out as a key differentiator for the program.
How have your studies and experiences at Crummer impacted your professional life?
I have been quite fortunate to fall back on much of my educational experience in my career, specifically the focus on international business with the growth of tourism and Disney’s businesses around the world. We welcome guests to Walt Disney World Resort from all across the globe, and ensuring we do so in the right way and staying relevant with the marketplace is our top priority.
Set yourself apart and be known for something specific. Don’t try to be everything to everyone; know what your strongest abilities are and be confident in them.
Briefly describe your current professional role.
I oversee the integration of Walt Disney World site-specific and Lodging business strategies that encompass the operational aspects of the end-to-end guest experience for the Walt Disney World Resort portfolio, consisting of 28 resorts and more than 28,000 hotel rooms, offering a variety of value, moderate, deluxe and vacation ownership villa accommodations located in Orlando, Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island. It is a strategic planning role that leads organizational and cultural change efforts needed to ensure new, innovative concepts, business practices, and technologies are fully adopted and integrated into the lodging business.
How is your organization benefitting from Crummer’s MBA offerings? What has been the ROI thus far?
Due to Crummer’s applied learning method from professors with real world experience, I successfully integrated my course work into actual work projects with ease.
What advice do you have for professionals looking to take their careers to the next level?
The advice I continue to share with individuals looking for career advancement is two-fold; build, maintain and nurture great relationships of people all through your organization. Second, create differentiators for yourself. These could be by way of education and higher degrees, work experiences or personal accomplishments. Set yourself apart and be known for something specific. Don’t try to be everything to everyone; know what your strongest abilities are and be confident in them.
How can other successful women support and encourage the next generation of female business leaders?
Be supportive, fair and authentic. I think a common misperception is that women have to be hard and difficult to advance in a company and the exact opposite is true. Stay true to yourself and support those around you that are positive and contribute great results.